Ecuador: Obama & Hillary back US-sponsored provocations


Richard Moore

The Huffington Post

Obama Glosses Colombian Attack in Ecuador; Clinton Calls for Escalation Against 


Posted March 4, 2008 | 01:51 PM (EST)

The Clinton and Obama forces have asked us to consider who we want answering the
phone at the White House at 3 AM. There is little need to speculate. We have a 
lot of evidence about how they will respond.

On Saturday, Colombia launched an attack on a FARC camp in Ecuador, with, 
Ecuador plausibly alleges, U.S. support. Colombia's President Uribe -- a close 
Bush ally -- lied to Ecuador's President Correa about the attack, claiming it 
was in "hot pursuit." Ecuador's soldiers, when they reached the scene and 
recovered the bodies of FARC members who had been killed, reported to Correa 
that they had been asleep when attacked. They were in their underwear. Correa 
called it a "massacre." Both Ecuador and Venezuela have moved troops to their 
borders with Colombia, warned Colombia about violating their sovereignty, and 
cut diplomatic relations with Colombia.

Colombia's attack was a flagrant violation of Ecuador's sovereignty. "Hot 
pursuit" was Colombia's only possible defense. There is no right in 
international law to engage in military attacks into another country with which 
you are not at war if it is not an immediate continuation of an engagement that 
began within your borders (unless your action is explicitly authorized by the UN
Security Council.) If you say that international law doesn't matter, you're 
essentially saying that Colombia has special rights to violate international law
because it's a U.S. ally. That may sell well inside the Beltway, but it's going 
to sell very poorly, in general, from the Rio Grande to Tierra del Fuego.

While no-one should dispute that the tactics of the FARC have caused tremendous 
suffering -- as have the tactics of the U.S.-backed Colombian government -- it's
important to consider the likely motivations of the Colombian government for 
carrying out this operation. Raul Reyes, the top leader in the FARC who was 
killed, led negotiations that resulted in the FARC releasing six political 
hostages to Venezuela, including four a week ago. This is a pattern for the 
Bush-backed Colombian government -- to meet the "threat" of successful diplomacy
with military escalation. The Colombian government, with vigorous U.S. support, 
is taking actions whose probable consequence is to reduce the likelihood that 
FARC hostages will be released -- including three American captives.

Now consider the statements of the Democratic presidential candidates. First, 

Obama Statement on Recent Events near Colombia's Borders - March 03, 2008

"The Colombian people have suffered for more than four decades at the hands of a
brutal terrorist insurgency, and the Colombian government has every right to 
defend itself against the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). The 
recent targeted killing of a senior FARC leader must not be used as a pretense 
to ratchet up tensions or to threaten the stability of the region. The 
presidents of Colombia, Ecuador and Venezuela have a responsibility to ensure 
that events not spiral out of control, and to peacefully address any disputes 
through active diplomacy with the help of international actors."

Obama is absolutely right, of course, that nothing should used as a "pretense" 
to ratchet up tensions or threaten the stability of the region. But this glosses
over the apparent fact that Colombia flagrantly, deliberately, and with 
premeditation violated Ecuador's sovereignty. Ecuador is a U.S. ally. The U.S., 
as a member of the Organization of American States, has an obligation to defend 
Ecuador's sovereignty. If you say that doesn't matter, then what you're saying 
is that a country like Ecuador can't rely on the U.S. to behave in accordance 
with international law, and has to turn to countries like Venezuela to help 
defend its sovereignty (as it has.) In this assertion, you'd have a lot of 
agreement in Ecuador, including from its U.S.-educated president.

Obama says, "The presidents of Colombia, Ecuador and Venezuela have a 
responsibility to ensure that events not spiral out of control, and to 
peacefully address any disputes through active diplomacy with the help of 
international actors." That's absolutely correct. He might also note that the 
U.S. - which is a protagonist through its role in Colombia -- shares this 

Now let's consider Hillary's statement:
Statement from Hillary Clinton - 3/3/2008

"Hugo Chavez's order yesterday to send ten battalions to the Colombian border is
unwarranted and dangerous. The Colombian state has every right to defend itself 
against drug trafficking terrorist organizations that have kidnapped innocent 
civilians, including American citizens. By praising and supporting the 
Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, Chavez is openly siding with terrorists 
that threaten Colombian democracy and the peace and security of the region. 
Rather than criticizing Colombia's actions in combating terrorist groups in the 
border regions, Venezuela and Ecuador should work with their neighbor to ensure 
that their territories no longer serve as safe havens for terrorist groups. 
After reviewing this situation, I am hopeful that the government of Ecuador will
determine that its interests lie in closer cooperation with Colombia on this 
issue. Hugo Chavez must call a halt to this provocative action. As president, I 
will work with our partners in the region and the OAS to support democracy, 
promote an end to conflict, and to press Chavez to change course."

This is 100% wrong. Hillary acts as if the "event" is not the Colombian attack 
in Ecuador, but the Venezuelan response (Ecuador, the country whose sovereignty 
was violated, is an afterthought.) According to Hillary, Colombia has "every 
right" to "defend itself" by violating Ecuador's sovereignty -- that's the event
-- but if Venezuela sends troops to its side of the Venezuela-Colombia border --
its own national territory -that's "unwarranted and dangerous." Hillary says 
that "after reviewing the situation," she is hopeful that Ecuador will determine
that its interests lie in "closer cooperation with Colombia" -- the country that
just flagrantly violated its sovereignty -- than with Venezuela, its ally that 
is speaking up against the violation. She is hopeful that Ecuador will lick the 
hand that beats it. As president, she will work with our partners in the region 
and the OAS to press Venezuela to change course. Good luck with that. It's the 
U.S. and Colombia that need pressure to change course -- to forswear violations 
of international law and to choose real diplomacy.

Judging from Hillary's statement, we should expect no meaningful change in U.S. 
policy towards Colombia, Ecuador, or Venezuela (which she falsely claims is a 
dictatorship) if she is elected president -- unless it is a change to make it 

UPDATE: Ecuador says it was in talks with rebels to release 12 hostages, 
including Ingrid Betancourt and three Americans, that the talks were in an 
advanced stage, and that the process was thwarted by the Colombian raid.

AP: "President: Ecuador was in talks with rebels to release 12 hostages, 
including Betancourt"

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